My (Virtual) Renovation Diary | Clinton Hill 1BR Co-Op, Part II - Built-in Units

March 13, 2013 | Alex

Don't worry-- I haven't forgotten about my (virtual) renovation of a Clinton Hill 1-bedroom/1-bath Co-op, although I have had a slight change of heart on the order of construction.

To recap: in my last post we stripped off layers of old paint where necessary, painted the walls and replaced the flooring throughout the apartment. I had initially planned to tackle the bathroom next. But selecting fixtures and materials for a bathroom requires careful planning and research. I have a few ideas, but I'm not quite ready to take the plunge-- even a virtual one.

Instead, I'd like to focus today's virtual renovation on built-in units, including new radiator covers. The existing radiator covers are in need of modernization.

If you run a Google image search for "radiator cover" it's easy for the contemporary design lover to despair. But cheer up! I've collected a slew of images of radiator covers that fit perfectly into a modern home.


Sources  (clockwise from top left)

  1. Custom Radiator Cover by Emma Victoria Interior Design
  2. via Pinterest
  3. Wooden Curved Radiator Cover, by Jason Muteham
  4. Custom Radiator Cover by Rodriguez Studio Architecture PC, via Houzz
  5. via Pinterest
  6. via Pinterest

As the images illustrate, a custom radiator cover can serve multiple functions. It can extend a window sill to create a deeper surface, provide covered storage or serve as extra "bench-style" seating, depending on the height. 

Since the building is old (built in 1939), I'd like to introduce a touch of weathered material to temper all the modern sleekness I plan to inject in the way of the kitchen and furnishings. Here are two interesting radiator covers that combine rustic elements with a contemporary feel.



  1. Left: Custom radiator cover by Daniel Greene
  2. Right: Radiator Cover by Nightwood

My favorite is the above left image-- both for its appearance and its back story. The unit features a clean, white and contemporary radiator cover designed by Daniel Greene, but features a ledge made from beams salvaged from the Brooklyn Bridge during a renovation. While I'd love to integrate an old component of the Brooklyn Bridge into my design, I have a feeling I'd have to settle for a less historical salvaged joist. I'd make a few other adjustments, I think. I'd align the top of the joist with the window to create an extension of the sill and I'd ideally prefer a lighter stain. The effect I'm trying to achieve is a juxtaposition of clean, white and sleek with warm, weathered wood. Here's an image of Tribeca loft that hit the nail on the head of that winning combination:

Tribeca loft by  Wettling Architects , via  Remodelista

Tribeca loft by Wettling Architects, via Remodelista

Now that I've decided on a design for the radiator covers, I'd like to expand covered storage in the living space. While the apartment is generously endowed with 4 closets, they are all clustered near the entry and bedroom. If you look at the floor plan, you can see that there is one long, uninterrupted wall that runs the length of the living room. That's where I plan to install a built-in unit that integrates covered storage, pull-out flat file storage, open shelving and-- best of all-- home office at the windowed end of the wall that can be hidden when company is coming.

Here is an inspiration image for the built-in units, with a stow-away home office. Sleek and practical, no?

I especially love that there's a long open shelf running along eye-level to display beloved objects, but the majority of the storage space is covered. After working with Ryan on an apartment with no less than 5 floor-to-ceiling open bookshelf units, I am practically salivating at the thought of having storage in which I can stash all sorts of junk that need never be organized or artfully displayed when I'm expecting visitors. Just shut the cabinet doors and you're ready for your guests to arrive.